Summary: The Patriarchs The Awe Factor and the Fear Factor Genesis 22:1-19 David Taylor July 3, 2016
The Awe Factor and the Fear Factor
July 3, 2016
BI: God provides sacrificial lamb, provides for all things
The overarching story of Genesis is the promise of a Deliverer whose mission will be to bless the nations by reversing the curse of sin, rescuing humanity from their sin. This comes into focus when God chose Abraham to be the one through whom he will bless the nations. Abraham’s life comes to a climax in chapter twenty-two when God commands him to sacrifice his son. It is an intense, disturbing story, and often misunderstood. I hope to bring some clarity to the story today.
The chapter starts out informing us that this is a test for Abraham. It begins with, “after these things (1),” that is, after sending his first son, Ishmael, away God now tells him to sacrifice his other son. A test in the biblical sense when God uses circumstances in our lives to expose the sin in our hearts. For instance, the psalmist says, “Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.” “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” But testing not only exposes the sin in our hearts, it also refines, purifies, and strengthens our faith. The psalmists says, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” And James tells us “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The test for Abraham was something like this, “do you love Isaac more than me? Are you transferring all your hope from me to your child?” When something or someone becomes more important than God in our lives, the bible calls it idolatry because it or they replace God in our lives. Do you have something or someone in your life that has become more important than God in your life? So God tests us to expose the presence of sin in our hearts and root that sin out, reversing the curse of sin in us. Yet that testing is often painful and unpleasant. So God commands Abraham to take his son, his only son, the son he loves, and offer him up as a burnt offering. What? This is in direct conflict with the promise God gave him! Some have concluded this is irrational and call us to blind faith but I don’t think so. This story must be read in light of Abrahams’ whole life up to this point. Abraham has lived a uniquely miraculous life of faith where God had intervened numerous times. So his faith was reasonable, based upon his history with God.
So Abraham obeys God. He rises early in the morning and heads to mount Moriah. He saddled his donkey, took two young men, cut wood for the offering, and went to the place God told him (3). Genuine faith motivates and leads to obedience. God had given him the promise of a multitude of nations coming through Isaac so he trusted that God would provide. Faith is based upon truth, a correct understanding of God, but it is a leaning on, banking our hope on that truth. Abraham knew God was faithful, reliable, and his hope rested on that truth. After traveling three days he sees mount Moriah in the distance and tells the young men to stay behind, that he and Isaac are going up the hill to worship and they will return (4-5). This is a statement of faith. He is resting on God’s faithfulness, reliability, to provide. The New Testament tells us what he was thinking, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” At some point as they are heading up the mountain, Isaac notices that they have everything they need to offer a sacrifice except the lamb and so he asks about it. Abraham tells him that God himself will provide (7-8). When there seems to be no other options, you always have the option of faith. Do not ever think you have no other options because there is always faith. The gap between your struggle and God’s promise is faith. We live by faith, not by sight. Our faith is tested, tried, and stretched in the difficulties of life. God is testing Abrahams heart, who does he love more, God or Isaac? Who or what do you love more than God today or rather, what are you in awe of today? It is interesting that the bible describes Abraham’s call, as the God of Glory appearing to Abraham. It is this glory that captured his heart and it is this glory that captures our hearts. Yet we have the tendency to lose our awe of God and become bored with God. Familiarity can have a numbing effect on us. So we become more awed by other things. The bible calls that idolatry. Every one of us has a war going on in our hearts, an awe war. It is the most basic, daily war we face. What are some symptoms that you are losing your awe of God? Boredom with following Christ. It can be described as you do not desire to read your bible or pray. When your small group or other friends gathers you are more interested in the fishing report or talking about work than talking about God. Church is boring; you are just going through the motions but your heart is not in it. All of us are waging a war for our awe of God- red hot affections for God. Sometimes I read and study a passage that is glorious and it does not move me to worship. It concerns me. Are you concerned about your awe for God? How are you doing in your awe war? Maybe you are already a prisoner of war?